‘A Question of Training’ by Chris Oakley

All this is, to say the least, a little unclear and to lay claim to knowing the nature of our obligations in advance, the form that institutionalisation appears to take, would appear to install considerable difficulties. Any attempt to determine strictly quite what the nature is of any mutual obligations, or to regulate the form of any reciprocal debt, in other words a full knowledge of what our bonds to other people might be, seems always on course for degradation, a swerving away from the specificity of the personal. Almost in acknowledgment of this, note a further linguistic shift: the term moves from a “didactic analysis”, via a “training analysis” to the softer, less forceful title “personal analysis”. As the term ‘personal’ seems so self evidently redundant perhaps there is some subliminal acknowledgment of the difficulties haunting the scene. Possibly the insistence is underwritten by the assumption that in these so called ‘training analyses’, ‘personal analyses’, something as well as analysis is going on: a form of supplement, something added on, analysis as a form of therapy with the addition of non therapeutic aims, i.e, an education.

But let us examine some of the complexities of these ‘training analyses’. Initially let us set aside a particular way of carrying on, that scandalously may continue to this day in various training organisations, where the analyst would play a crucial part in deciding the readiness or lack of it of the trainee with regard to their beginning to work as an analyst. I say scandalous because how could such a condition, this issue of judgment, not seriously skew the analytic process. Surely this is to be on the side of the analysand moving away from fitting in with what is wanted in the direction of the specificity of their own desire, however much that will never be entirely their own. One of the better moments in my own analysis (with a training analyst from the Institute) was his response to my pathetic anxieties with regard to my suitability to be an analyst. Informed by my idealizing assumption that in order to take up such a place, surely I should be well on the road towards, what I now see as, the fiction of ‘psychic health’, I hesitatingly ask “Do you think I’m suitable?” This was deftly met with “Thankfully, I don’t have to concern myself with that.” But let us stay with this question, is the analysis to be an education? Is this to be carried out during the course of the analysis? Together with the analysis? Alongside it? After it? And what is it that the trainee is supposed to be learning about? About themselves? An inculcation of a fascination with him or her self? Surely not. About their motives, about the insistence of their symptom, the desire to become a psychoanalyst and it’s narcissistic pretensions (never forgetting that real psychoanalysis has no truck with symptom removal)? Were the latter to be the case we could conceivably have stumbled up against some pretty persuasive justification for the insistence of the rule. Nevertheless are we not simultaneously at the site of further self delusionary muddle? Is anything other than lip service paid to such a quest for if the very reasons that one is in that analysis in the first place (i.e. my desire to be an analyst) is constantly upheld as the locus of the therapeutic goal, will this not inevitably be at the expense of other aspects of my being?